Latino Immigrant Communities and Equity in Transit Oriented Development

Gerardo Sandoval, University of Oregon


Historically, large-scale transportation infrastructure projects have had devastating outcomes in low-income communities of color. This research project has examined whether contemporary transit-oriented development (TOD) projects in two low-income Latino neighborhoods have offered a different trajectory, and incorporated the neighborhood’s dynamics within TOD plans to encourage more equitable outcomes in these projects. Planning equity debates around TODs in low-income communities of color center on whether these projects serve as catalysts for neighborhood redevelopment or as tools for displacement and/or gentrification. These TOD projects have the potential to provide needed public transportation access and community benefits linked to those transportation investments, but there are risks. The new investments in transportation may lead to changes in land use patterns and housing stock, and attracting new commercial investments can lead to neighborhood displacement and higher turnover rates. In this research project, we document the literature on transportation equity and present two in-depth case studies of large scale TODs in Latino neighborhoods. The two case studies are examples of large-scale TOD projects transformed by community stakeholders into catalysts for more equitable neighborhood revitalization. These more equitable outcomes depend on both the process and context of these particular neighborhoods, and how planners incorporate the various forms of political, financial and cultural capital that exist in these communities into the planning and implementation process of TOD projects. The literature review covers the emerging debates on TOD and equity within communities of color. We first discuss the difficulty in defining TOD. We then focus on transportation justice issues as they relate to TOD equity concerns. We review the history of federal transportation policy and how certain policies have created inequities in low-income communities of color. Lastly, the scholarly debates regarding the relationship between TODs, low-income populations and equity is presented. Debates such as the links between TOD and neighborhood displacement and/or gentrification are analyzed. Researchers, for example, are increasingly concerned with providing guidance to city planners across the country who are interested in learning how they can ensure that TOD projects are inclusive, equitable, and better serve the needs of diverse populations. The case studies reveal how TOD projects in Latino neighborhoods have the potential to open up access to regional transportation systems; increase the number of affordable housing units in a neighborhood; support local and diverse Latino retail businesses; and build upon existing social services such as medical and educational services. The research also reveals the important role bottom-up participatory processes play in promoting endogenous forms of capital in these neighborhoods.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
August 01,2013
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 1
UTC Funding: